Petty world of tweets!


Khalid Saleem

Thanks to the ‘new world order’, this generation is fast turning into a world of tweeters! Leaders in the new world order are turning more and more to tweeting to express their views. Gone is the worthy practice of oratory or even well-drafted policy statements. What has regretfully taken their place are hastily scribbled and (at times) out of context tweets. Oh! What a downfall. As a regrettable result the, old world order appears to have been turned on its head. For some time one had ignored this trend as an aberration and a fancy of lofty leaders. Since this trend has emerged among the third world leadership – and lately among our very own – it is bound to raise an eyebrow or two.
Remember the Roman Emperor chap, Nero, who – as legend has it – in 64 AD had indulged in ‘fiddling’ while Rome was burning? He has, quite understandably, been held accountable for this callous act by historians since. One was reminded of this historical bit by what appears to be recurring in contemporary history; and with a vengeance! The sole difference is that ‘fiddling’ has apparently evolved into a process bearing upon the contemporary process of ‘tweeting’. Fiddling is out; tweeting is in! The net outcome and emphasis, however, remains ominously similar!
Several world leaders, including the President of the sole Super Power, are prone to issuing tweets at the least provocation. International situation being what it is, it does appear a tad insensitive for the makers of public opinion to fly off the handle every time they have a go at their lap-top! President Trump, for one, is a habitual ‘tweeter’; what is more, he boasts of issuing most ‘tweets’ from his bed! One is at a loss as to what to make of this state of affairs and, more importantly, where it can lead an already accident-prone political environment to! What has the world leadership evolved into? One had always been led to believe that world leaders went through a nerve-wracking process when formulating policy, especially the ‘foreign’ aspect of it. Meetings were held, attended by the best available brains; midnight oil was burnt; feasible options drawn up and painstakingly evaluated. It was when the best options had been narrowed down to a couple or so that the head honcho (and his inner circle no doubt) went through the final process of selecting the one most feasible for implementation.
If anyone thinks that the foregoing is how it works today; perish the thought. Now it would appear that the ‘boss-man’ apparently gets a sudden inspiration (when in bed?); pulls out his ‘lap-top’ and shoots off a tweet to an awe-struck world. It is only after this is done that the ‘implementers’ sit down to decide how this tweet is to be fleshed up and in due course of time implemented. This is not to say that all such tweets will see ‘the light of the day’. The only snag is that once the tweet is public property, it is not always possible to wriggle out of it.
As things are progressing (?), the day may not be far off when statesmen and global leaders may well consider it expedient to start hostilities, even World Wars, using the medium of tweeting. The one snag is that, while it may well be within the realm of possibility to start hostilities through a ‘tweet’, it may not be all that easy to bring them to a timely end through the same medium! Technology is apt to have the effect of upsetting the doomsday time-table to the detriment of humankind.
The ever-developing technology is apparently holding mankind to ransom. Happenings that once were the end result of discussions, deliberations and brain-storming are today the mere result of the touch on the button of a beastly contraption. If this were restricted to students, players or idle souls, it would be excusable; even understandable. But when the protagonists are leaders, opinion makers and influence peddlers, the common person may be excused for breaking out into goose-pimples and worse at the mere thought of the ominous consequences of such things as ‘irresponsible tweets’!
There was a time (remember?) when much was made of such phenomena as ‘finger on the nuclear button’ of the chosen few. What was not made public at that epoch was the fact that there was a wide chasm between theoretically having the ‘finger on the button’ and precipitate act of actually ‘pressing’ the said button. In actual practice, many a leader was not even fully conversant with the many steps to be surmounted prior to the decision leading to the ‘pressing’ of the said button. An already jittery world would welcome assurances that the ‘tweeting’ of leaders of today too has similar safe-guards!
Time may be at hand for the elders and thinkers of the present era to give deeper thought to the ‘equation’ between the human mind and technology. Technology is important, even vital, to future development. But the key to the future destiny of the human race may well lie in the bottom-line as to who (or what) controls the fateful decision-making process! As to where does the practice of tweeting fit into all this is the moot point.
One can only hope that this practice too will fade away as has been the case with other idiosyncrasies of yore. But given the fact that several leaders of the Third World – and that includes our very own lot – are falling for this trend, it appears to be highly unlikely that it will be in the nature of a passing fad. Still one would hate to let go of the rope of optimism.
— The writer is a former ambassador and former assistant secretary general of OIC.

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